Minnesota Cop Who Killed Philando Castile Is Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter

“No reasonable officer…would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced the charges on Wednesday.David Joles/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


The suburban police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a Minnesota traffic stop is being charged with second-degree manslaughter, John Choi, Ramsey County’s top prosecutor, announced on Wednesday.

Castile, 32, was shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez last July. According to Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was also in the car along with the couple’s young daughter, the officer fired his weapon as Castile reached to get his ID, after Castile informed Yanez he had a (legally permitted) gun. Reynolds live streamed the aftermath on Facebook, and her video sparked weeks of protests in Minneapolis and nationwide.

The shooting “was not necessary, was objectively unreasonable, and was inconsistent with generally accepted police practices.”

Officer Yanez’s use of deadly force “was not necessary, was objectively unreasonable, and was inconsistent with generally accepted police practices,” Choi said. “No reasonable officer—knowing, seeing, and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time—would have used deadly force under these circumstances.” Yanez’s discharge of his firearm also put Reynolds and her daughter at risk, Choi added. The officer will be charged with two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm as well.

The charging documents revealed new details about the incident: Through the driver’s side window, Yanez asked Castile for his driver’s license and insurance information. Castile provided Yanez with an insurance card and then informed Yanez that he was carrying a weapon. Yanez said “okay” and told Castile not to reach for it. Castile—apparently still reaching for something—responded, “I’m not reaching for it.” Yanez yelled, “Don’t pull it out!” Castile’s girlfriend assured Yanez that Castile wasn’t reaching for the gun. Yanez again ordered Castile not to pull his gun out, and seconds later, he fired seven shots. Castile died on the scene soon after.

Another document, made public by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, showed that Castile had a legal permit to carry a firearm.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate